Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Look Back at Galway Downs International by James Alliston

Galway Downs in Temecula was the site of the last big show of the season. This show was huge with not only many entries from the east coast but also one competitor from the Netherlands too. All the CCI divisions had a ton of entries which was great to see. In particular the 3*, in only its second year, has clearly become a great success with the east coast riders recognizing the great footing available at this time of year, the top-class Ian Stark designed course and substantial prize money available.

The show was a great result for my horses. They went into it bang on form after Woodside so I was quietly confident but I also realized there were some top horses and riders on the start list so it was going to be a hard fought competition. The weather was far from ideal with a lot of rain throughout but thankfully cross-country day was beautiful and the ground by the time the 3*went in the afternoon was lovely.

The 3* course was substantial with questions all the way round and some big ditch fences. Parker jumped great but was pretty strong and I was pretty tired at the end of the round. Needless to say he was comfortably inside the time which gave me a nice gauge for how quick to go out on Jumbo’s Jake. Jake cruised round and gave me a fabulous ride. As I approached the brush corner four from home I realized there was no flag on it which concerned me slightly as it was pretty big anyway even with the flag. I needn’t have worried though as Jake pinged it and we went on to finish the round bang on the optimum and snatch the lead from my neighbor for the week Nate Chambers. I was on cloud nine after a great day of cross country for me with four CCI horses round inside the time; the only downside being informed that if I had been wearing the right gloves I would have won $2,000! I was a little upset with myself for not cashing in on this great opportunity offered by SSG gloves, but congratulations to Australian Kadi Eykamp for capitalizing on Sunday and pocketing $3,000 for the clear round nearest the optimum.

Show jumping day offered some thrilling climaxes to the international classes. Lots of rain throughout the jumping made for difficult conditions and, particularly in the 1* and 2*, clear rounds were hard to come by. My day started with an excitable Mojo in the 1*. He was pretty lit up and after an early rail I was concerned we might put up a cricket score in the pouring rain. However, he held it together to come home with just the one mistake and luck was on our side as those in front also had rails leaving Mojo a delighted and surprised winner.

In the 2* Tivoli jumped a lovely clear to pile on the pressure and very nearly came out the victor. Amber Levine pipped us by less than a point so many congratulations to them for a great weekend. I’m very excited about Tivoli for next year, he has all the ability in the world and the cross country round he gave me was effortless for him.

First up for me in the big one, the 3*, was Parker who jumped a great clear which boosted my confidence for Jake to follow. Jake did not disappoint, jumping clear and culminating a great weekend for myself and everyone at Graceland Equestrian Center with a win. I’m delighted for the horse and owner India Mcevoy as the horse has had a fantastic year and really deserves the recognition he got with this big win. Many thanks to Chuck and Peggy Moore for your ongoing support, Ken Nicholson for making the trip down and particularly to India and Peggy for being fabulous grooms all weekend. I must be the only rider who has his owners grooming their horses at the shows and am extremely lucky and grateful to have them.

Lastly, a big shout out to my parents John and Petey who made the trip across the Pond to support and help. I think they must be good luck charms and as always it was great entertainment having them around.

Photo of Jumbo's Jake by Samantha Clark/ Eventing Nation

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